Sixth time lucky!

Try, try, try again is what I was told but in this case add another three tries and then we have success! A life tick for us both is what we have been after since January 1st today was the sixth time we went for a Pallid harrier. The first four times at Abbey farm and the last two at Roydon common and I am oh so pleased to say we have it, distant but none the less good views! Take my word for it the dot in the centre of this picture is a Pallid harrier, the other picture is Roydon common as we left it to return to the car.

We were beginning to think we might miss it entirely but our perseverance paid off today as we decided to give it another go around the time it comes in to roost. I had seen pictures of it and read what to look out for. One thing I had heard was that it is smaller than a Hen harrier which as it happens we saw for ourselves as at one point it flew around with a Hen harrier, the two so close to each other it was clear to see the difference. The Pallid also had a tussle with a crow which provided a good view of its manoeuvring skills! It really was a beautiful bird and I was so pleased to get decent views although I would have liked to see it closer but maybe next time!

This morning was spent making biscuits with my three gorgeous grandchildren, they always bring a smile to my face and today was no exception. Daniel was sieving the flour when he suddenly declared that he had a bit of a problem. I asked what it was and he said, “every time I stir it, it falls through the little holes!” bless him, such a cutie. They each made their own batches and they were all yummy!Daniel (Custom)

The past few days, since our return from Suffolk, have been spent quietly. Ian has needed a few quieter days to literally catch his breath but hopefully his situation will soon improve but until then if we need to pursue things more gently then so be it.

On our way to an appointment on Saturday we spent some time sorting through gulls and thankfully found an Iceland gull, we also picked us a singing Skylark. If anyone spots any other different gulls in these snaps please feel free to let me know!

My sister invited us to lunch on Sunday and we stayed two night, quite a lunch hey?! It was good to catch up with them and we went for a walk at Sculthope moor, for a change I took some photos showing the backs of some birds. They are doing some work there making a river walk that will hopefully be open for the spring.

 

We bought a new, light weight telescope which arrived today so we tried it out this afternoon. It is really good and as the first bird we saw through it was a life tick we can’t complain! Now we need to decide if we want to sell the other scope of hang on to it, time alone will tell.

The Pallid harrier was bird number 149 for the year now we are wondering what 150 will be!

 

 

A first on the first!

 

January was brilliant but what would February bring? Today we expected nothing as we were going to stay home but news of a Ferruginous duck tempted us out after lunch. It was reported as being at Holkham hall and would be a first for us both. We thought we had seen one before but no, it turned out to be a hybrid. We got to Holkham and walked across the field to the lake battling strong winds. Holkham has a herd of red deer and fallow deer (can’t count them of course!) and is a beautiful place to walk.

On reaching the lake we quickly found the duck, of course it was on the far side as distant as possible but I am getting used to that! We saw it through the  scope and are happy it really is a Ferruginous (fudge) duck. Anyway I am counting it quickly before anyone disagrees!!!

There are plenty of other ducks on the water and a good few geese but I was especially taken with these Egyptian geese. I am not sure if this pair are late or early in their breeding programme.

The three of them swam along together until the very young gosling decided it was time to get out. The parents did their best to call it back in but to no avail and they had to climb out and bring it back in person.

We decided to detour from our route home to try again for the Golden pheasant. The light was already fading when we arrived but we waited a while. We had just decided to give up for the day, started the engine and out he popped. He made the briefest of appearances but as he is so striking he is impossible to miss. It is thought he is the last of his kind in that area near to Sandringham which is a shame.

We may well try to see him again and if lucky get a picture but it certainly made a golden end to the first day of our second month.

IMG_7235 crop

Bird count…131

 

Should we, would we, did we?

One bird I really hoped to see (a life tick) this year was a Penduline tit and we had half a chance to do that this week. Two had arrived in Gloucestershire and remained for several days but if we travelled to try to see them would they still be there? One of the beauties of this year off was so we could take advantage of such opportunities so it seemed daft not to go for this one. We couldn’t go straight away but were warming with the idea of going on Wednesday and staying a couple of nights. Unfortunately we couldn’t tie it in with catching up with some relatives that live nearby but that gives us an excuse to go again soon!

We booked a hotel but would you believe it all day Tuesday no one saw the birds same applied to Wednesday but in fairness the weather was foul! Too late the room was booked and we were excited at the thought so we went anyway. Tuesday night and I had the worst nights sleep I have had for a very long time due I think to feelings of excitement that I might see the bird and also feeling we were being daft, wasting time and money travelling for a bird (or two) that may well have gone and for all I know might be flying to Norfolk! Most of the journey was through rain and we did have times of wondering why we were travelling over four hours but at other moments we were just plain excited at the thought of this special life tick we were hoping for.

Before going to our hotel we decided to find the site and as the weather had cheered up a bit we decided to try our luck. We spent an hour or so watching the place they had last been seen, we were watching goldfinches, reed buntings, meadow pipits but no Penduline tit. Locals seemed to think they may still be in the area just keeping low to try to keep out of the weather so we were still feeling optimistic. We were freezing so decided we would get out of the weather too and call it a day.

It is a nice site and very easy to access, well once you have fought your way through the mud but that applies to almost everywhere we go lately! We decided to make an early start on Thursday morning and we did just that. As we got out of the car we saw a pair of Chiffchaff (the one pictured on this page is one I took some while ago in our garden) When we arrived one other person was there before us and as we met up with her she told us excitedly that she had just seen one! Phew it had all been worth it, sure enough up popped the Penduline tit and thankfully Ian got it in his telescope and we both saw it, just the one.

Moments later it went down in the reeds and we didn’t see it again, but we had seen it, fantastic!!! Would I have liked it to stay? Yes! Was I hoping to get photographs of it? Yes! But never mind it was the first one I have ever seen and with a little bit of luck it won’t be my last. To my knowledge neither of them have been seen since so I cant help but think how fortunate we were. Thank goodness we made an early start and thank goodness too that the other birder (Katrina) had just spotted it.

So should we, would we, did we? YES!

Were we right to go? 100% yes, but were we right to wait the number of days we did, probably not, so next time maybe we will act more quickly.

We remained there for nearly two more hours hoping to see it again but then decided to go and see what Slimbridge had to offer, but I am going to post that separately later tonight

Lunch with one of my brothers, sister-in-law and nephew on the way home was a real bonus to the trip.

Penduline tit was bird number 120

We have also had both roe and muntjac deer in the past week.